Former Bonneville County Sheriff Paul Wilde officially stepped down Monday morning as his successor, Sheriff Samuel Hulse, took the oath of office.

The ceremony brought an end to 44 years of service, 13 of which Wilde spent as sheriff. When he began as a deputy, he made $4.37 an hour.

Wilde first joined the sheriff’s office in 1976. He was appointed sheriff in late 2007 after his predecessor, Byron Stommel, retired.

“I would like to thank the community for giving me the honor to be sheriff, to serve this community,” Wilde said Monday.

The new sheriff, Hulse, is Wilde’s hand-picked successor. Hulse received Wilde’s endorsement when he announced his campaign for sheriff in January 2020.

The swearing-in ceremony was held primarily over Zoom, with only a few allowed in the room to witness the proceedings in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though excited for retirement, Wilde said it was not how he pictured his career ending. He received a sendoff from staff on Friday, his last full day on the job, though he remained as sheriff over the weekend.

Office celebrations have been put on hold during the pandemic. Though he has said goodbyes through email, Zoom and other methods, he also wanted to share his gratitude directly with the deputies who served the sheriff’s office during his term.

“It’s very difficult not to say goodbye to my office,” Wilde said. “This isn’t how I envisioned my retirement after this many years,” he later added.

During Wilde’s tenure, Bonneville County has grown into a major hub of eastern Idaho. The office employs about 200 deputies to cover 1,900 square miles and run the Bonneville County Jail.

When asked what advice he gave his successor, Wilde pointed to the values listed by the sheriff’s office: honesty, integrity, trust and accountability. He said those terms are a reminder that the sheriff’s responsibility is to the community, that the sheriff and every deputy serve the community.

“They don’t work for me,” Wilde said. “They work for the community.”